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This is a picture of Milky Way as seen from Earth using a Canon EOS 450d DSLR camera and a 55mm lens. The bright central star is Deneb that belongs to Cynus constellation.

The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy that is located the solar system and therefore the Earth. Based on observations, it has a mass of 10^12 solar masses and its shape is barred spiral, with an average diameter of 100,000 light years.

It contains between 200 billion and 400 billion stars. The distance from the Sun to the center of the galaxy is about of 27,700 light years (8.5 kpc, 55 per cent of total radio galaxy). The Milky Way is part of a group of about forty galaxies called the Local Group, and is the second biggest and brightest after the Andromeda Galaxy (although it may be the most massive, a recent study showing that our galaxy is 50% more massive than previously thought).

2012-12-25 10:46:00       
Yes, it is ~26,140 years old, but it has been 140 years since we first recorded the event of the srvounepa. What it appears to us as is a 140 year old srvounepa. For all we know, more could have happened since then, but we won't know until the light gets here. Relativity tends to make a mess out of things, so it's easier to simply talk about events as they appear on our light cone .
2011-08-19 22:19:26       
AFAICT you've cvoreed all the bases with this answer!
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